Thursday, June 22, 2006

Shelach 1

1) Many people are familiar with Rashi's comment on 13:23 (based on the Pesikta) that Yehoshua and Kaleiv did not join with the other spies in carrying back from the fruit of the land, since they knew that their intent was to use the fruit as props to slander the land. Less well-known is the opposing comment of the Midrash Rabbah (16:10), which says that the spies had no intent in taking back any of the fruit of the land, were it not for Kaleiv drawing his sword and saying, "If you don't take from the fruit of the land, either you'll have to kill me or I'll kill you". I think that this is a wonderful example of the concept of opposing midrashim (reconciliation is perhaps possible, but seems to be very dachuk). It's interesting that Kaleiv added in the option of them killing him, rather than the more familiar reverse ("Do this or I kill you"). Recall, the spies weren't entirely evil people (after all, they were chosen for a reason), so Kaleiv putting his life down on the line was probably a safe manuever, maybe intended to shock them out of following through on their evil plan. Alternatively, perhaps he mentioned it because he was vastly outnumbered, and, if violence broke out, he would most likely be the victim.

2) In P' Ki Tisa (34:6), following the sin of the Golden Calf, HaShem teaches Moshe the 13 middos that can be used to invoke His mercy. In this week's parsha (14:18), Moshe uses only 6 of them. He uses one of the two sh'mos HaVaYa, Erech Apayim, Rav Chesed, Nosei Avon, (Nosei) Pesha, and Nakeih, but omits the other sheim HaVaYa, Keil, Rachum, and Chanun, (Rav) Emes, Notzeir Chesed LaAlafim, and (Nosei) Chata'ah. (This is based on the opinion of Rabbeinu Tam on R"H 17b, as quoted by Artscroll in their siddur's commentary on Seilchos, but in their commentary in the siddur on Tashlich, they say that Moshe uses 9, which is equal to the number of words mentioned thus far). He also mentions "Lo Y'nakeih", which seems to be a midah of pur'anus (unless one wants to include such non-cleansing as being a part of HaShem's mercy), and "Pokeid Avon Avos al Banim". I'm sure this discrepancy is dealt with in many places.
The Oznayim L'Torah, for one, explains the absence of 4 of the first 6 terms by saying that this time was not fit for a request for mercy for those who did not sin, since everyone had sinned and had not yet repented, but rather focused on a request for a stalling of the execution of HaShem's anger. Similarly, he left out "Chata'ah", since that refers to unintentional sins, while here the sin was intentional (although it would seem that the same could be said by the Calf). I don't see that he explains the other two missing terms, but following in the same vein, since the nation really was deserving of extermination, emes was undesirable in this scenario. As for notzeir chesed la-alafim, which would seem to be a reference to z'chus avos, perhaps by rejecting the land, they had cut themselves off from z'chus avos - not sure how to expand on this.

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